Krekorian Defeats Azeri Efforts to Influence Legislators

SACRAMENTO–California State Assemblymember Paul Krekorian (D-Glendale) last week defeated an effort by Azerbaijiani government agents to solicit false statemen’s from his fellow legislators to support an international anti-Armenian propaganda campaign.

Several representatives of the Republic of Azerbaijian, including a member of Parliament and the Azeri Consul General, as well as their paid lobbyist, were in the State Capitol to meet with members of the legislature. Among other things, the Azeri agents were soliciting legislators to sign a letter to President Aliyev expressing solidarity with the people of Azerbaijian and acknowledging what they called the "Khojaly massacre" during the Karabakh war of independence in 1992. The Azeri’s lobbyist even suggested that all-expense-paid trips to Azerbaijian could be available to legislators who "understand the issues."

Within hours of learning of this effort, Krekorian contacted every member of the Assembly, including the Speaker, and every member of the Senate, including the President pro tem, to urge them not to sign the Azeri letter. Krekorian, who serves as the Assistant Majority Leader of the Assembly, wrote to each member with an explanation of the historical controversy over the Khojaly incident. Krekorian further explained that the Azeri government was attempting to use their biased view of the incident as a propaganda tool in an international effort to discredit Armenia and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.

Because of Krekorian’s immediate and forceful advocacy, only one out of 120 members of the Assembly and the Senate signed the Azeri letter. The result was an embarassing failure for the Azeri propaganda machine, which has significantly increased its anti-Armenian rhetoric throughout the world in recent months.

"The Azeri government has no business being in our State Capitol peddling their anti-Armenian prejudices," Krekorian said. "Their letter about the Khojaly incident is outrageously biased and misleading, and is nothing more than a cynical manipulation of a tragedy for propaganda purposes. Obviously, they desperately want to distract attention from the growing worldwide demand for justice for the Armenian Genocide, but they will not succeed. I’m glad that my colleagues saw through this charade and refused to be used as propaganda tools by the Azeri government."

Regrettably, one member of the Assembly did sign the letter, and that fact was quickly seized upon as a "victory" by the Azeri propagandists. Within a matter of hours, that letter was being quoted on Turkish and Azeri websites throughout the world, which applauded the author for standing up to pressure from the Armenian Diaspora and "pro-Armenian" legislators. Some of these sites even made reference to the Khojaly incident as a "genocide," thereby revealing the true propaganda purpose of this effort.

Assemblymember Paul Krekorian (D-Burbank) represents the cities of Burbank and Glendale, and the Los Angeles communities of Atwater Village, Los Feliz, North Hollywood, Silver Lake, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Village and Van Nuys.

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